- Good interior packaging
- Responsive handling
- Sedan-like fuel economy
- Innovative features, like a built-in vacuum
- More child-seat positions than other vans
- Front seats lack support
- Pricier than the competition
- No longer so mini
The 2015 Honda Odyssey is at the pinnacle of minivan design, offering practical features in a space-efficient package that's more rewarding to drive than most other vans, SUVs, or crossovers.
People like multi-function vehicles nowadays; and among them minivans are the most versatile. It's easy to forget that minivans like the 2015 Honda Odyssey are, at once, go-to wheels, medium-duty haulers, multi-passenger carriers, and rolling diaper bags. The Honda Odyssey is one of our highest-rated family vehicles, because of that convenience, and also because they earn top crash scores and even blend in a little driving fun.
Last year, the Odyssey received refined styling that included a more deeply sculpted hood, a bolder grille, darker-finish headlamp housings, and a new lower front fascia with chrome-trimmed fog lamps. At the back there are LED taillight bars. Inside, the Odyssey got a new center-stack design as well as new finishes throughout. All of those changes carry over to the 2015 model.
The Odyssey stands as one of the best minivans ever—a not-so-mini vehicle that open-minded families won't be able to resist. With all the latest infotainment features, lots of tech savvy, and even a little design flair, the latest Odyssey is stands at the top of the minivan heap. As far as the design goes, Honda managed to add a little visual interest to this box on wheels with the last redesign, including the “lightning bolt” detail along the side; it can be a bit controversial to onlookers but affords better outward vision for rear passengers.
The Odyssey's 3.5-liter V-6 is nothing special but provides adequate output; it makes 248 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque throughout the model line; Honda's six-speed automatic transmission is also standard across the lineup. In short, the Odyssey performs like a car, with confident acceleration and passing, and even enough power to take on mountain roads with a full load. Although it's a taller vehicle, it handles more like the Accord sedan than the Pilot crossover. The ride is smooth for all passengers, as well.
Inside, the Odyssey is a surprisingly quiet and refined space. Active noise cancellation and active engine mounts both quell any vibrations from fuel-saving cylinder deactivation, as well as excess road noise. Cubbies and bins abound, with the center compartment between the front seats designed to swallow large items like a purse or tablet.
The current Odyssey is loaded with other thoughtful touches, including a highly reconfigurable seating layout. An available split second row allows for the two outboard seats to be moved toward the doors (Honda calls this wide mode) to make more space for adults sitting side-by-side. The second and third row can also move relative to each other to provide more room either for access to the rear seats or comfort for the second-row passengers. There's also flexibility in where child safety seats are placed; the Odyssey offers a a class-leading six child-seat tether locations and five LATCH locations (the official clips).
Base LX models include Bluetooth hands-free calling, Honda's intelligent Multi-Information Display (i-MID), and an eight-inch TFT screen, in addition to 2 gigabytes of audio storage and a USB audio port; but many of the most desirable features remain the exclusive domain of the Touring and Touring Elite models.
For 2014, the rather pricey Touring Elite got some of the infotainment features that made their debut in the 2013 Accord. This includes the HondaLink infotainment suite, which allows owners to use a smartphone app to access Aha Internet-based entertainment, or hear Facebook and Twitter updates via text-to-speech. Touring Elite models also get a 650-watt sound system with hard-disk storage, the ultra-wide-screen system, theater surround sound, and HID headlamps. A standout option is the 16.2-inch wide-screen entertainment system, which can even split the screen in half to display two separate inputs (including HDMI), while the navigation system features Zagat listings and live traffic info.
Perhaps the Odyssey Touring Elite's most enticing feature is the HondaVAC system, which was new for 2014. HondaVAC—co-developed with Shop-Vac— is a powerful integrated vacuum cleaner located on the left side of the cargo compartment. Accessories and nozzles are included and can be attached to the pull-out hose, which reaches all the way to the front of the van. Because it is hardwired to the vehicle's battery, the HondaVAC never needs to be charged or plugged in; it acts as a normal vehicle accessory, capable of running for up to eight minutes with the vehicle turned off.
The Odyssey has also been a standout when it comes to safety. It's been one of the few large vehicles to achieve top ratings from both U.S. safety agencies. The IIHS calls it a Top Safety Pick, and the Odyssey has all the safety-feature bases covered, with a standard rearview camera system on all models, and the top Touring Elite getting an Expanded View Driver's Mirror, a blind-spot warning system, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Departure Warning.